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On March 20, 2015, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety and the Center for Gun Responsibility, convened at the Seattle Public Library to discuss evidence-based gun violence prevention recommendations. Audience members included, among others, representatives from the League of Women Voters, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Seattle & King County Public Health, Harborview Medical/Trauma Center, and the National Physicians Alliance.
At the forum, members of the Ed Fund-organized Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy (including Ed Fund Executive Director Josh Horwitz, Jeffrey Swanson of the Duke University School of Medicine, and Garen Wintemute of the University of California, Davis) presented evidence from their report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.” They were joined by local experts Leanne Kennedy, a practicing mental health counselor from Tacoma; Brian O’Neill, a retired investigator from the Auburn Policy Department; and Judge Anne Levinson (Ret). Robert Feldstein from the Office of the Mayor provided introductory remarks, and the forum concluded with a presentation by Jane Weiss, aunt of Veronika Weiss, a victim of the May 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, California.
The panel emphasized that—more than mental illness on its own—factors such as a history of violence, domestic violence, and substance abuse can increase an individual’s risk of dangerous behavior, and firearm prohibitions should also focus on those criteria.
The panel discussed important opportunities to improve gun violence prevention policy in Washington state. For example, something like California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) mechanism (known in Washington as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders”) would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the courts to temporarily suspend firearms access during periods of crisis, irrespective of a mental illness diagnosis. Learn more about the GVRO policy here.
Check out local coverage of the event and Consortium’s recommendations here.